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Matthew Kirkpatrick’s “Light Without”

Matthew Kirkpatrick has an inventively constructed story (“Light Without”) with some refractive and still oddly lyrical syntax at Web Conjunctions. Some choice bits:

She feels best in dim light listening to her parents’ footsteps in the kitchen above invisibly tapping their toes to different silent beats. Her parents are always moving away from one another, only circling into proximity by mistake. She imagines each footfall marks a point on a map hidden between the floor upstairs and the ceiling above her. One day she will climb a ladder and remove each tile from the dropped ceiling to reveal the concealed map of some undiscovered place, routes formed from the pattern of her parents’ movement.

Actually, this section might give you a better idea of some of the things Kirkpatrick is doing here:

Returning to a house and a wife and a son, returning to:

Returning to drink on the couch and watch the flickering light of the television until dawn. Returning to beige carpet. Returning to study stacks of video, replaying them in slow motion, looking for something concealed in fuzzy frozen frames. Returning to a hospital roof for one more smoke before returning to endless rows of babies in identical pink and blue caps.

This is the story of

Two women and a man, running across the field on the other side of the park passing a bottle, running by a man sitting alone in a chair beneath a tree over the hill and out of sight. He listens to their laughter. Two men, three women, one man running across the field on the other side of the park, passing a bottle, running by a man sitting alone in a chair beneath a tree over the hill and out of sight. He listens to their laughter.

Listens to

What he falls in love with is a room full of newborns, all possibilities.

What he falls in love with is a woman inserting herself into magazines, fingering a razor blade with her index finger carefully cutting around the heads of celebrities. A woman who special-orders glossy magazine paper, who unsteals magazines from the 7-Eleven, who inserts herself into other lives. What he falls in love with are legs, eyes, lips, hands in images not their own.

This is the story of putting one of the babies in a banana box at the end of the shift and throwing a coat over its sleeping body and walking with purpose into the hospital elevator careful to stand in the back between the gurney and two glazed nurses walking carefully out the back door and into the parking garage running up the stairs to the Subaru throwing the baby in the back situating the banana box between the spare tire and a dead battery to keep the baby safe for the ride home.

This is the story of running over a hill in the park at night through the cold, crisp snow, through a dark arbor to get to an aviary full of gray birds wintering. Running over the green hill past summering geese. Drinking from a bottle of Wild Turkey. Listening to captive owls. Noticing a man sitting in a chair in the snow beneath a tree reading a magazine on the first night of winter.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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